Friday, March 27, 2009

Time to go!

The tail end of this week has been quite busy and hectic, but so far this morning (Friday) it has been quite peaceful and calm. I have been relaxing all morning, which is definitely needed, and very nice. There are a few things I wanted to get you caught up on before I take off.
Our soccer team had a phenomenal weekend of first games. The guys varsity won 3-1, and the JV won 4-0. Varsity and JV girls also started their season with victories. I had a lot of fun on the sideline, and was a very vocal coach. I will admit it was difficult being on the sideline, and not on the field, but I had so much joy watching our players play. One of the highlights of the weekend for me was the bus ride. I know it doesn't sound that exciting - especially when you hear we spent 15 hours on a bus in a 30 hour span, with 60+ students. But...hanging out with the guys on the bus, getting involved in conversations, and laughing to the point of tears, was great. There were some students who I was "familiar" with, but after the bus ride got to know a lot better. There were some students who I barely knew, who will now say 'hi' to me in the school hallway, and will sit down and have a conversation with me. This past Tuesday I was waiting around school to pick up dinner, and a player came and sat next to me and we talked for a good twenty minutes. As was always my hope and intention, coaching soccer is more about the opportunities it creates off the field, and I am blessed to see this starting to happen.

This week has been busy getting all the guys ready to travel for spring break. I feel as though I am in geography class when I talk about where all our students are going. We have students going to; Mongolia, India, Burkina Faso, Macedonia, Russia and that is just the start. I have been in charge of organizing the airport runs, and gathering all the passports and plain/train tickets. It is an enjoyable task for me, but definitely takes a bit of time.
Lastly... in less than 24 hours I will be on a plane headed to Kenya. We are leaving the school this afternoon at 5.00pm, and will sleep at a church in Zurich for the night. Our first flight leaves Zurich at 7.00am, and from there we are on our way! We had a team meeting on Monday to go over our last details, and to distribute the slew of pills we will take throughout the trip. The excitement on the students' faces was evident, and there has been a buzz in the air all week. Thursday I went in for our last drama/skit practice, and was only intending on staying for about 30 minutes, but our students were so determined and excited to really learn the skit, we all stayed for over an hour!
As we are in Kenya, and you want to pray for us, here are a few specific requests I have.
- Our health. We have a few leaders, and students who are not feeling 100%
- Pray the students would be open and vulnerable with one another. This is something we have heavily encouraged them to do.
- Opportunities. I want to challenge and push our students to go deeper in their faith, and to really connect with them. Pray I will have opportunities to do this, and that I will take advantage of them.
- Energy. We are traveling with twenty students, and will work with over 60 more down in Kenya. I think that says enough.
- My devotionals. I hope they communicate God's truth, and challenge the students.

Well, it is time for me to go finish packing. I need to make sure I have a deck of cards, and plenty of little snacks for the trip!

Thank you for your support, and for your encouragement. You are a blessing to me.

With love,
Tommy

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Blessing of a little sister


My little sister, Whitney is amazing. She is one of the most important people in my life. The picture posted is from this past Christmas. She is absolutely beautiful. She constantly fills me with energy, excitement, happiness and laughter.
There is nobody who can make me laugh as hard as Whitney, and the amazing part is most of the time she isn't even trying, she is simply being herself. Her sense of humor is unique and very special. There are times where she has a story to tell you, and she starts bopping up and down, filled with excitement to share a story. Only, she will finish the story and leave you asking, "Where's the rest of the story? What was the point of that story?" Then she just bursts out laughing, and I can't help but laugh with her (everyone in my family knows exactly what I'm talking about with these stories).
Whitney has perhaps the greatest imagination I have ever seen. Her creativity is out of this world. Many times she and I will have conversations about the most absurd things, that make absolutely no sense, yet somehow the two of us know exactly what we are talking about.
Whitney makes me happy. Plain and simple. Hearing her voice and reading her e-mails, instantly brightens my day. Seeing a picture of her makes me smile. God has given me a phenomenal little sister (okay, she's not 'little' anymore, but to me she will always be my little sister).

Whitney, thank you for being who you are. You have been given an amazing personality, with a lot of amazing traits - and you embrace them all. I love you.
You have seen your share of troubles and difficulties, but you face each one head on. I love you. The way in which you fight and continue to battle fills me with encouragement and strength. I love you. Your ability to make me laugh and smile is something I treasure. I love you. Even with all you have been through, today, you will choose to fight. I love you.
Today, more than any other day of the year, we choose to not be bitter about the past, rather we choose to be happy because of the present. We choose to continue to fight and press forward.
Whitney. I love you. You are so beautiful and precious to me. Thank you for all you do for me. Thank you for who you are. Thank you for showing me how to fight.

God, thank you for the amazing little sister you have given me. She is so precious to me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Room



I was not planning on breaking from my traditional post every Thursday, yet I felt as though today I couldn't help it. As soon as I finish writing this post, I will go to the first floor and sleep in my room for the first time in five weeks!
I was away this past weekend, but there were plenty of people who worked around the clock to ensure that when I came back, I would be sleeping on the first floor. This afternoon I spent a solid three or four hours moving my stuff back in, putting pictures up, making my bed, and all those wonderful things. Usually it is a painful activity for me, but today was filled with joy. One of my fellow RA's said I looked "giddy" as I moved all my stuff back to my room.
Tonight during our dorm's 'study hours' (90 minute period each night where the guys have to do homework) I had five guys come in my room to do their homework. Some watched me put up pictures, some sprawled out on the floor to do their homework, and the others just sat in my chairs. Honestly, it was so refreshing. At one point I sat on my bed and while watching the guys interact, I just took a big sigh of relief. Having the guys come in my room during study hours, is one of the highlights of my day. They feel comfortable, they laugh, they hang out. It was very difficult for me to not have this for five weeks, but that is all over now.

I put up some new pictures so you could see what my room looks like. Quite different than what it looked like a few weeks ago. Michael (7th grade) and Syn (8th grade) managed to find their way into a few pictures - they love hanging out in my room. A picture of my room doesn't feel complete, without them in there.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kenya

I have been talking about my trip to Kenya for quite some time, and I thought today would be a good opportunity to fully explain what the trip entails. We are leaving for Kenya Saturday March 28 and will come back Saturday April 4.
I have to admit, I have a feeling the week in Kenya will be the highlight of my semester. I have been looking forward to this ever since I found out I was going on the trip back in December. It comes up in conversation all the time, it takes up a lot of my thoughts, and day-dreams. I am so excited.
Last semester our school Chaplin (Sam) compiled the list of opportunities to serve on a mission trip. The mission trips are through BFA, and the teams are composed entirely of BFA students. As a result, Sam was seeking for any staff/adults interested in serving as a leader on a trip. Unfortunately for me, as the sign up sheet was going around, we were in the middle of our crisis with Sharon’s accident. I knew I had the desire to go on a trip, but was unable to get my name on the list in time. I told our Chaplin I was interested, but simply did not have the time I needed to research each trip, pray about the trips, and really determine if this was something I should sign up for. Therefore I missed the deadline, and thought the door was closed. I was a bit discouraged, but again, because of the craziness of last semester, did not think too much about it.
Then about a week or so after the deadline, Sam called me up and asked if I would be interested in helping lead a team to Kenya. He gave me some details about the trip, told me the cost of the trip, asked me to pray about it, and then told me to give him a response in 24 hours. Having felt the disappointment upon realizing I missed my chance, I knew I strongly desired to go on a trip. I spent some time in prayer, talked to a fellow RA to gather her opinion, and then sent Sam an e-mail, telling him to book my ticket.

What will we be doing in Kenya?
We are traveling down to Kenya with four leaders, and twenty students. We will be flying into Nairobi, and then driving two and a half hours into the ‘bush’ where we will meet up with two missionary families. We will arrive late Saturday night, and leave the following Saturday night. Throughout the week our group will be split in two. Half the students, and two leaders, will work at an orphanage called, House of Hope (This is where I will be) and the other half will work at a house called, Helping Hands. Our entire team will sleep in the same area at night, and then go to our respective houses from 9-5ish, and then come back together when the day is through.

The orphanage is currently home to twenty children, between the ages of three and thirteen. Throughout the week we will be doing a VBS with the kids, as well as some cooking, cleaning, and repairs around the house. We are going down to assist the missionaries currently there, and we are going to be there to love on the kids.
The other half of our group will be spending the week at Helping Hands. Helping Hands is run by a different missionary family, and their ministry is to house delinquent and physically disabled youths. From our last e-mail correspondence between the leaders and family, we understand there will be 40 local students at Helping Hands! There they will also put on a VBS program for the students, and engage in the students lives.
A few nights throughout the week we will work with the local youth group. Apparently they have quite a steady stream of teenagers who come on a weekly basis for fellowship. We are extremely excited to see the interaction between the BFA students, and those from Kenya. I am sure they will be amazed at how they face similar issues, struggles, and triumphs, even though they live in vastly different cultures.

Why am I excited to go to Kenya?
This could take a little while -

- I am very excited to spend time with the students.
There are twenty students going, and only four of them are from Sonne. Therefore there are 16 students who I do not see on a regular basis. Though their faces were familiar, I am anxious to get to know these other students.
- I am excited to see the students in a different setting.
Many times I only see the students in the dorm. I don’t see them interact outside the dorm, and with their peers at school. Going to Kenya is not your typical daily occurrence. The students will be stretched, the students will be challenged, the students will be opened and changed. All of this… I get to witness and be a part of!
- I am excited because I get to speak to the students.
Through our meetings as team leaders, we have taken on different roles and one of my roles will be the leader of our nightly devotional/quiet time. As one person put it, I am going as the Chaplin of the team. I have already begun typing up different ‘talks’ and am thrilled to be doing so (If you want a sample of one, let me know! I'll shoot one to you in an e-mail) I have come up with Hebrews 12:1 as our theme verse, and will focus on this verse nightly. This semester there has been an ever-growing tug on my heart to push, challenge, and enable the students to dig deeper in their faith. I am praying for them to make their faith personal, and take it seriously. It is a big task, it is a big challenge. But it is a big tug I have, and I serve a big God who is able to do amazing things.
- I’m going to Africa.
There isn’t any way I was going to exclude this as part of my excitement. There is a chance we will see some wild animals, which is awesome. But Africa has much more to offer than animals. I am excited to have my eyes opened to a different world, and culture. One of my good friends from Grove City is ecstatic for me, as he constantly tells me that the eyes of my heart are going to be opened and changed as I go to Africa. I can hear the excitement in his voice as he explains this to me – and I certainly hope you can hear the excitement in my voice as I talk about Kenya.
- I am excited to work with my fellow leaders.
Us four leaders have been working tremendously hard to get everything in order prior to leaving. We have tried to challenge the students to be open and vulnerable. As leaders we have pushed each other, and worked really well together. Two of the leaders I am not extremely familiar with and am looking forward to spending quality time with. The other leader has been one of my closest friends since being here at BFA, so I am excited to further that friendship, and serve alongside her.

As you can probably gather, I am very excited about this trip because of the time and opportunity it presents me to work with our students from BFA. For the past month or so I have been going to school on Mondays and leading a bible study with our team members. Additionally we are preparing a ‘drama’ to share with the Kenyan youth group, which I have been in charge of. It is safe to say drama/acting is nowhere near my expertise, but nonetheless this has opened more opportunities to meet and build relationships with students.
I truly want the students to grow in their faith and take charge of it. Through the Kenya trip God has placed twenty students in my path to impact. I am excited!

As we have been preparing to go to Kenya we have been gathering supplies for our VBS. I have been extremely blessed and encouraged by the way in which PCA (the high school my mom teaches at) has rallied around us. My mom has encouraged her students to pray for our students. Some students from PCA are writing personal letters to students here at BFA. As I type, there is a package somewhere over the Atlantic that originated in New Hampshire, and is holding 60 stuffed animals!! Our team will take these stuffed animals down to Kenya and give an animal to every student at House of Hope, and Helping Hands. The way in which the body of Christ has come together for this trip already, has been such an encouragement and blessing to me.

Lastly, I know this is long, so if you are still reading, THANK YOU.
Please pray for us as we travel, and as we are in Kenya. Pray that our students will be open and obedient to whatever God has in store for them. Pray they will be willing to serve and push their comfort zone. Pray for me, as I prepare my ‘devotionals.’ It has been a thrill so far, and I strongly want to present a message to the students that will have an impact on them. Pray for us as leaders, as we continue to fine tune all the details, and adjust to all the changes I am certain will occur while in Kenya.

I am excited.

With joy serving here in Germany,
Tommy

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A different perspective

This past Monday kicked off the start to spring sports, and I officially began my reign as a coach! It is a very different perspective, but one I know I will enjoy. I have to admit, there were many times where I was on the sideline watching, but everything inside me wanted to be on the field running around with the guys. We held tryouts Monday-Wednesday and this morning (Thursday) I posted the roster on the gym door. We had over 40 guys come out for Varsity and JV, but were only able to keep 30. Last night the coaches got together and discussed for a solid 90 minutes who to take and who to leave behind. It was emotionally draining, and very difficult. Without sounding too shallow, I am excited that cuts are behind us, and we can start practicing and move forward. Our first game is March 21st, so we have a bit of time - which means I can run the guys hard!

Tomorrow morning the entire high school will load up on five buses and trek north for a six hour drive for the annual weekend retreat. The students are thrilled to have a four day weekend (no school Friday and Monday). They are also excited to get out of Kandern, and have a little more freedom to walk around a larger city. I'm really excited because I believe the weekend will provide me with some good opportunities to have quality time with some students. Throughout the weekend I will be teaming up with another RA, and we will be leading a small group, which should be a lot of fun.

Everything with my room has suddenly picked up a little bit of momentum. For the past week a company has been cleaning my room, ripping up carpet, working on the electricity, and today they started to paint the walls. It has been three and a half weeks since the fire, and I am itching to get back to the first floor. At this point I haven't heard when I should anticipate being back in my room. My original wishful thinking was five weeks, but at this point I think that is a dream, and not reality.
I'm trying to make the best of a bad situation, sometimes succeeding, other times I know I'm not.


Sorry, nothing too deep from this post, just a good update on things here in Germany.
As always feel free to contact me (Bressontw1@gmail.com) I love hearing from you and knowing you are keeping tabs on my ministry here.

Tommy